Brown 'is as much to blame for conflict'

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown is as much to blame for the Iraq war as Tony Blair, most of the British public believes. Almost four in 10 people think Mr Blair should face a war crimes trial over the 2003 invasion, a poll for The Independent shows.

Asked in a survey whether Mr Brown should share responsibility with his predecessor for the conflict, 60 per cent of respondents agreed and 34 per cent disagreed. The willingness to blame both men crossed the political divide, with more than half (52 per cent) of Labour supporters agreeing with the statement, compared with 68 per cent of Tory voters and 62 per cent of Liberal Democrat supporters.

The findings of the ComRes study are a setback for Mr Brown, who in the next few weeks will give evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the war. The Prime Minister's allies had hoped the conflict would be seen as "Blair's war".

But 37 per cent of people believe Mr Blair should be put on trial for going to war with Iraq, while 57 per cent disagree. Those who support a trial include more than one in four Labour supporters (27 per cent).

Younger people are the most hostile towards the former premier. Forty-six per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 43 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds agree he should face trial, compared to fewer than 25 per cent of those aged 65 and over.

Some lawyers believe there are grounds for Mr Blair to be charged and say that, while there is little prospect of that being initiated in Britain, he might be arrested in another country.

According to ComRes, the passage of time has done little to change the public's perception of the war. Only 29 per cent saw it as largely a success, while 63 per cent did not.

Sixty-eight per cent of those questioned thought the Chilcot investigation had "told us nothing we didn't already know about the reasons for going to war", while 24 per cent disagreed.

ComRes, a member of the British Polling Council, called 1,001 adults between 29 and 31 January 2010. Data were weighted by past vote recall and abides by its rules.

Full tables at